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Fact or Fiction: London predictions; NFC East outlook


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

The NFC East is now the best division in the conference

John Schmeelk: Fact – It's hard to argue otherwise, with the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys combining for a 10-2 record. The Eagles are the only undefeated team in the NFL, and the Giants and Cowboys are two of only four teams in the NFC that are 3-1. The NFC West has disappointed with the lackluster start from the Rams and Cardinals. The Bucs are in first place in the NFC South but only 2-2. The Saints, a popular playoff pick in the preseason, are only 1-3. The Packers and Vikings are 3-1, but the Lions and Bears lag behind the Cowboys and Giants. It is no longer the NFC Least, at least through the first four games of the season.

Dan Salomone: Fact – In the words of Michael Scott: "Well, well, well, how the turntables…" A punch line for the past few seasons, the NFC East, which is the only division that boasts four franchises with Super Bowl titles in their history, is now a combined 11-5. The four teams are 3-1 against the NFC North, 1-1 vs. NFC South, 1-0 vs. AFC North, and 3-0 vs. NFC South.

Lance Medow: Fact - Based on record alone, this is certainly the case as the NFC East is the only division in the conference that showcases three teams with winning marks. When it's all said and done, maybe it won't be the case. But as it stands right now, this division has some substance behind it with the Eagles leaning on a strong run game and tough defense, the Cowboys have been just as impressive if not better on defense while backup quarterback Cooper Rush has proved to be a stabilizing force under center and the Giants have leaned on their rushing attack and solid defense. You can't sleep on the NFC West, which has also had some early season surprises and the Lions are much better than their record (1-3), adding a bit more depth to the NFC North. With that being said, at least through the first quarter of the season, no other group tops the East in terms of consistency.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The NFC East is the only division in the league with three teams sitting above .500 heading into Week 5. However, the NFC West is still the best division in the conference. All four teams in the NFC West are currently 2-2. The Seattle Seahawks have surprised many with their first month of the season, as Geno Smith currently leads the NFL by a wide margin with a 77.3 completion percentage. Despite losing Trey Lance, the San Francisco 49ers still have Jimmy Garoppolo to lead the offense and perhaps the best defense in the league. While the Los Angeles Rams have struggled a bit, it's tough to count out the reigning Super Bowl champs. Lastly, the Arizona Cardinals have been solid on offense despite not having DeAndre Hopkins, who was suspended for the first six games. The NFC West entered the year widely considered the best division in the conference, and through four games they still deserve that designation.

Saquon Barkley will touch the ball at least 30 times on Sunday

John Schmeelk: Fact – You could go the other way here given how mobile Daniel Jones looked in practice on Wednesday, but why? Jones was healthy for most of the game against the Bears and Saquon Barkley still managed 33 touches. No one stresses position value more, but there is a fair argument to be made that Barkley should be in the MVP conversation if the season ended today. He leads the NFL in rushing yards, scrimmage yards and touches. Barkley has accounted for 43% of the Giants 1,328 net yards this season. He wouldn't win it due to the great quarterback play in the league (Mahomes, Allen, Hurts, etc) this season, but he would be the top non-quarterback (along with Cooper Kupp) in consideration.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Given the health of the wide receivers and the uncertain statuses of their quarterbacks, no number can be considered too high for this game. He is off to the best start in franchise history in rushing.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Saquon Barkley has only touched the ball at least 30 times once in four games this season and that was a product of the Giants relying heavily on the ground attack and playing with the lead for the majority of the game against the Bears. They only attempted 16 passes. The Packers game will fall more in line with the first three contests in which Barkley had 24 touches or less in each - 33 touches won't be the norm moving forward.

Matt Citak: Fact – Barkley has only touched the ball 30 times once this season, which came in last week's win over the Bears. The injuries to Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor, along with the bad weather conditions, certainly played a role in the number of touches he had. But there is no reason for the Giants to stray away from this game plan. Barkley has led the Giants to the No. 1 rushing attack in the league, averaging an incredible 192.5 yards per game. Meanwhile, the Packers are allowing 126.8 rushing yards per game. It would benefit the Giants to keep the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands for as long as they can Sunday. One way to do that is to win the time of possession battle by establishing the run, which starts and ends with Barkley.

The Giants need to force multiple turnovers to defeat the Packers

John Schmeelk: Fact – It will be tough to beat the Packers if the Giants don't win the turnover battle. Given how the Giants offense and Packers defense has played this year, odds are the Giants will turn it over at least once on Sunday, which means they'll need at least two if they want to win the turnover battle and the football game. The Packers have turned it over seven times, while the Giants have six takeaways (all via fumble recovery) so far this year. The numbers say its possible if the Giants can continue to prevent the Packers passing offense from hitting its stride.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Every possession matters when going up against Aaron Rodgers. The Giants will need as many "extra" swings at the bat as they can get on Sunday.

Lance Medow: Fact - In two of the Giants' three wins this season, they've had multiple takeaways. Two against Carolina and three against Chicago - both of those games were also decided by one score. The Packers already have seven giveaways on the season and they've had two in each of their last two contests - yet still found a way to win. That means forcing at least a pair of turnovers against Green Bay doesn't guarantee a victory, but it's one of a few necessary steps to accomplish that feat. Taking away possessions from Aaron Rodgers and shortening the field against a strong Packers defense can't be overlooked as valuable components.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants have forced turnovers in three of four games this season, all of which resulted in victories. In Weeks 2 and 4, they forced two or more turnovers. Considering the fact that the Giants are facing the two-time reigning league MVP in Aaron Rodgers, the defense and special teams will likely have to make a few big plays in order to defeat the Packers. The Giants head into Week 5 as the only team who has yet to intercept a pass this season. Coming up with the first one (or two) of the year would go a long way in helping the Giants come back from London with their fourth victory.

Rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger will lead the Giants in receptions in Week 5

John Schmeelk: Fact – How could you any receiver here given we don't know the health of Richie James, Kadarius Toney or Wan'Dale Robinson for the game. Saquon Barkley is always a threat but he gets so many touches as a running back that it is difficult to also make him a big part of the passing game. Fellow tight end Tanner Hudson could also be a possibility in this category. But let's assume the Giants continue to use a heavy play-action attack featuring those boots, which can open up things for the tight end. If the Giants' starting quarterback can't run quite as well, the tight ends could be a frequent target.

Dan Salomone: Fact – As a whole, the tight ends group has been improving and earning the trust of coaches. It has led to more snaps and opportunities for multiple tight end sets, which we saw last week. "They're smart. They're tough. They're dependable," coach Brian Daboll said. "We thought that was a good personnel package to use."

Lance Medow: Fiction - In four games this season, the Giants have had three different players lead the team in receptions, with Sterling Shepard being the only repeat champ. Daniel Bellinger topped the charts in Week 4, but he only had three catches and is the fifth-most targeted player on the team. Based on the early season merry-go-round and the uncertainty of how the passing game will play out and which personnel will suit up, let's take the field over Bellinger. Green Bay has also been effective in defending opposing tight ends with just one player, Bucs TE Cameron Brate, hauling in 5 receptions in Week 3. All other TEs have had three or less.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Bellinger has undoubtedly been solid to start the season and has stepped up with all of the injuries at the wide receiver position. But the player that is most likely to lead the Giants in receptions in Week 5 is Richie James. James is tied with Barkley for the team lead with 15 receptions, while his 155 receiving yards is the most on the team. James has been targeted 20 times through four games, and given the uncertainty around the statuses of Wan'Dale Robinson, Kadarius Toney and Kenny Golladay for Sunday's game, the veteran could be called upon for a bigger role. Whether it's Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor or Davis Webb under center, James serves as a reliable target in the passing game for whatever quarterback is on the field.

View photos from the New York Giants' first three regular-season trips to Europe.

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